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New York attempts to punish the poor and disenfranchised for not voting

ALBANY – A state lawmaker from Manhattan wants to make it costly for New Yorkers not to vote.

Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, a Democrat, introduced legislation this week that would establish “compulsory voting” in the state and punish those who don’t vote with a $10 fine.

“Mandatory voting would drastically increase civic participation and transform the political arena by making politicians more reflective of the constituents that elected them,” Glick wrote in a memo submitted with the bill.

Glick argued her bill would combat New York’s continuing problems with low voter turnout. She noted that Australia has a similar compulsory voting system and has seen turnouts of 90% or more.

Under Glick’s bill, any eligible voter who fails to vote would be hit with the $10 fine unless they have a “valid excuse” why they couldn’t do so. The legislation does not specify what constitutes a valid excuse.

Barbara Bartoletti, legislative director of the New York State League of Women Voters, was also critical of the bill.

“I doubt that we would support penalizing people who don’t vote,” Bartoletti said. “Often, it is a silent protest on their part to not vote.”



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